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Afghanistan Parliamentary Assistance Program (APAP) (2004-2012)

National Assembly of Afghanistan signs memorandum of understanding with CSOs

Seven years after resumption of the National Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) formally recognizing the value that CSOs can bring to the parliament has now been signed with CSOs. Read More...

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Project Description

After 3 decades of civil war, in 2005 Afghan voters elected their first functioning parliament in almost 35 years. The Afghanistan Parliamentary Assistance Project was there from the beginning. Starting in 2004, APAP helped lay the groundwork for the new National Assembly (NA) through a series of preparatory studies, expert advice on developing necessary rules and administrative procedures, and initial staff training. Following the elections, APAP expanded its efforts to support both staff and parliamentarians as they felt their way through the trials of creating a new institution from the ground up. APAP has witnessed and supported the parliament as it grew from what many viewed as a simple rubber stamp for the government to a vibrant independent branch of government that, by 2010, the Washington Post recognized as a “robust check on President Hamid Karzai’s power.”

Beginning in 2010, increased USAID support allowed APAP to deliver a comprehensive program of legislative strengthening and support. These activities were organized into the following units:

  • Legislative Support Team: assisted all 29 committees with law drafting, bill reviews, and the exercise of their oversight functions.
  • Budget Support Team: provided in-depth analysis of the executive budget and expenditures, the BST empowered the NA to reject the last two budgets proposed by the government and negotiate significant changes. It provided vital assistance to the budget and finance committees in their oversight function.
  • Outreach Support Team: provided assistance to the Department of Information and Public Relations and developed outreach to citizens, CSOs, and the international community. This team also published the APAP Newsletter, a valuable English language resource on NA activities.
  • Institutional Development Team: assisted Parliament in improving rules of procedure, staffing and human resource structures, and support services.
  • Afghanistan Parliamentary Institute: provided training to MPs and staff, on skills necessary for the efficient operation of all legislatures.

The challenges inherent in building a strong, independent, and effective Parliament in a relatively short time period in a conflict-ridden nation emerging from decades of authoritarian rule and civil war cannot be denied. Yet APAP brought significant improvements to the re-emerging National Assembly, and tangible progress was made towards improving the legislative, oversight, and representation functions of the institution.